Recent Reads | November 2020

November 28, 2020

Herione, by Mindy McGinnis

If you read recent post entitled A Course on the Heroin Epidemic: Initial Thoughts & More, you would know Heroine, by Mindy McGinnis is a required reading in the course. I finished it around a week ago in just a couple of days, as it was an easy, engaging read and I learned so much about drug use, addiction, and recovery. For anyone interested in learning more about this issue, I would highly recommend this book as an introductory novel. Though it is fiction and is classified as a young adult novel, it gives a very comprehensive introduction to the opioid problem and highlights how it affects everyone, no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

As a part of a Summer Reading Committee at my school, I as well as the other members of the groupboth student and faculty—were given three books from a long list we narrowed down at the end of the summertime to read and discuss throughout the end of the fall and winter term. The first book I read was Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. To quote Toni Morrison, who is referenced on the cover of this novel, Between the World and Me is "required reading." The book is formatted as a letter to the author's teenage son and explores what it means to grow up as a Black person in the United States. Especially given the terrible racial injustices that occurred over the past summer and exposed the deep-rooted, systemic racism in America, this novel is all the more essential for people to read, particularly those individuals who identify as White. Aside from the insights I gained from Ta-Nehisi Coates' book, I was also awed by his beautiful writing style and the way he captured and expressed his internal thoughts and emotions. The fact that it was formatted as a letter to his son made his words even more impactful.

101 Little Things I'm Thankful For

November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving. In honor of the holiday and inspired by one of my posts from a few years ago, I am sharing 101 little things I am thankful for. While I am beyond grateful for my family, my health, and my education, in this list I chose to focus on the small gratitudes are I often overlooked but still bring me great joy. Especially this year, I feel that practicing gratitude is so important, as it is all too easy to be sucked into the darkness of these difficult times. I hope that you have a restful and relaxing Thanksgiving, and remember to stay safe.

1. Fireplaces.

2. Trader Joe's.

3. Candles.

4. Sea shells.

5. Koi ponds.

6. Fragrant flowers.

7. Soft blankets.

8. Board game nights.

9. NYT crossword puzzles.

10. Pumpkin patches.

11. Colorful pens.

12. Watermelon juice.

A Course on the Heroin Epidemic: Initial Thoughts & More

November 18, 2020

Due to the pandemic, my school adopted a new schedule this year. As a part of the new curriculum, during the last week of the fall term and period between Thanksgiving and winter vacation, students are taking "intensive" courses. Each course is focused on a particular issue related to my school's theme of "Making a Difference" and grants students the chance to delve deep into their issue of interest for four weeks. What I appreciate about these new course offerings is that they were created with the intention of having students pioneer their learning and to engage students in ways outside of the traditional classroom settings, such as by asking students to read books, watch films, and by inviting guests to speak. As I mentioned in my latest Currently post, I chose to take a course entitled Horse of a Different Color  about the heroin epidemic. I have pasted below the course description crafted by my two teachers to provide a more clear explanation of the course.

This intensive is a multi-faceted exploration into the history and effects of opioid use and abuse in the U.S. and abroad. We will consult professionals in many fields, such as first response, healthcare, counseling, and law enforcement to learn about how opioid use became an epidemic…the one that few are talking about. We hope to have visits from people who are firmly in recovery and who will share their journey with us. Peppered into the course will be readings, film, 20th and 21st century music, and individual research. We will end with an upward swing toward changing perspectives and action plans.

A Victory for America: Joe Biden & Kamala Harris

November 12, 2020


For millions of Americans and people all around the world, election week was full of anxiety, stress, and tension. As I watched the votes pour in late Tuesday night, I grew fearful. Fearful that the 2020 election might be a replay of 2016. My fear seemed to be confirmed when I woke up at three o'clock in the morning, jumped out of bed to check the election map, and found that the key battleground states of Ohio and Florida had turned solidly red. The election map told a different story, though, as the days inched by. For weeks prior to November 3, experts advised Americans not to rely on early results since the large amount of mail in ballots cast this year due to the pandemic would take longer to process in many states. Though I was aware of this, I still felt a sense of dread in those first few days when most of the battleground states leaned red. After Biden flipped Wisconsin and Michigan, though, and Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania looked promising, I started feeling hopeful. But it was not until Sunday morning when Pennsylvania was officially called and tipped Biden over 270 electoral votes that I welcomed in the feelings of joy and warmth and hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for a better America.

Watching Biden and Harris speak that night, I was overcome with emotion. It was so moving to hear the president and vice-president elects talk about unity, fairness, and compassion. To inspire love and kindness, and to speak with such eloquence and dignity. And of course, the historic nature of Kamala Harris' nomination cannot be overlooked. Kamala Harris will be the first female vice-president, but as she herself stated Sunday night, she "will not be the last." In addition to being the first woman in the office, she is the first Black woman and first South Asian woman vice-president elect.